Are You “the Salt of the Earth”?

Hello Construction Network,

I hope all of you are closing out the first quarter with smart business practices that are producing your target profits.  If not, don’t hesitate to contact us.  We’re here to help you get back on track.

This month, we asked the newsletter contributors to write articles around “the salt of the earth,” which means those of great worth and reliability.  Every week, I do many interviews — phone, Skype and in person — along with team building, communication, behavioral training, and more, in which I interact with the awesome people who work in our industry.  Almost everyone is pleasurable to work with, but from the employment side, they treat it like dating;  they all want an employer who is a 10, but can’t figure out why the employer doesn’t want them; in an employer’s eyes, they might be a 5, nice people, but fall short somewhere in credentials.

Recently, I had a new employee join us who came from another industry.  After several weeks on the job, she made a comment: “unlike the industry she worked previously,” construction superintendents to executive level seem to have a difficult time articulating and documenting (resume, project list, references) their abilities and career focus.  In addition, she noticed that construction professionals tend to request a salary amount the employer should pay to hire them which is many times above the value they might bring to the employer.

From the human perspective, she noticed that everyone, for the most part, is pleasurable to work with.  I agreed and used words from Britt Nicole’s song as an example: all of you as individuals are “Worth More than Gold,” whether you feel it, hear it or live it!

Value as an individual and human being does not factor into what value you bring as an employee to an employer.  They are two totally unrelated measurements.  So what does set your salary or asking price?

  1. Your on-the-job experience and training.
  2. Your formal academic learning.
  3. Your network.

Some things that we run into all the time which do not play into your asking price from an employer’s perspective–but might get you ruled out quickly or fired quickly–after being hired are:

  1. What it takes to pay your bills.
    It is not an employer’s problem if you can’t live within your means if they are paying you fairly.  Fairly is determined by industry standards and whatever else they offer and require of you, not as indicated in sections 2 through 5 below:
  2.  What your buddy, associate, etc., told you that someone with the same title makes.
    Titles also do not calculate value. A superintendent who has only interior finish supervisory experience surely does not bring the same value to an employer as a lead superintendent on a 40-story high rise or even a lead super on a ground-up shopping plaza.
  3. Size of company you go to work for.
    I have almost 20 years now in construction employment and some of the smaller companies pay as well, if not better, than the big companies and, especially now, with all the governmental regulations, offer more benefits.  The big difference between companies of varying sizes is the culture.
  4. Online or academia-created salary surveys.
    Recently, I had a project engineer try to tell me what he should make based on a survey that his university does annually, showing what they started at and the average base salary.  First off, the survey takes into consideration no more than 60 participants a year in construction and only looks at base salary.  So if five people report 50K, that doesn’t show if they received auto allowances, reviews in 90 days with raises, etc., or if they reported 65K, did they take six years to graduate and work all through school?
  5. A personal recommendation (client, friend, sub-contractor, etc.).
    If someone doesn’t know your entire background, only knows you socially or from one project, they cannot accurately measure your value; they can only refer you for consideration.  This is where the employers often make wrong hires as they are easy and they assume that the person has vetted them for the position when, most of the time, the only vetting is, “He’s a nice guy.” or “She’s really great!”

Are you “the salt of the earth“? Are you of great worth and reliable? Do you have the characteristics of a great employee? Do you do some form of continuing education every year for your trade, general contracting, computer skills, technical, language and communication skills, etc.?  It doesn’t have to be higher education. Start somewhere.

Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter as we write the articles especially for you.  We are always here for help or encouragement if you need us and are willing to take the action plans we recommend for you and “make things happen”  for you!

To never losing your saltiness,

Suzanne Breistol on behalf of Kent, Suzanne and the Construction Connection Team!

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